Mandarin Immersion Senior Profile: Teddy Wang

The Capistrano Valley Class of 2024 will include the first ever graduates of the Mandarin Immersion Program. CUSD Insider asked the seniors to reflect on their time with the program and share what they have planned for after graduation.

Teddy Wang

Teddy Wang of the Mandarin Immersion Program at Capistrano Valley High.
Photo by Steven Georges/CUSD Insider


When did you start in the Mandarin Immersion Program?

2nd grade- 2012

Why did you join the Mandarin Immersion Program?

I joined the Mandarin Immersion program because I wanted a way to connect with my culture and my family in China. My parents moved from China to America to seek out new opportunities, but they didn’t want to lose any part of the culture that molded them, which is part of why I joined. I didn’t want my connection to my family to be severed because of a language or culture barrier, and the MIP program helped me maintain communication with the people that matter the most to me.

What are your plans after you graduate from CUSD?

I plan to attend college and eventually, earn a doctorate. I want to become an occupational therapist, because every part of the world faces developmental and motor issues in both children and adults, but only people that choose to dedicate their lives to this cause can help people struggling with these problems. I’ve worked with children with developmental issues, and I can confidently say these are the people I’m willing to devote my life to.

What other activities were you involved with in high school?

At my school, I am a member of the volleyball program. I’m on the board of the photography club, and join the club when they scout out photo locations. I volunteer at a facility for children with special needs called Beyond Blindness. I was a student at the California State Summer School of the Arts in the summer of 2023, and studied animation.

What was your favorite part of the Mandarin Immersion Program experience?

My favorite part of the program was definitely the Chinese culture nights. I really enjoyed being able to bond with my peers as people, rather than as students. It felt a lot less formal, and I had a lot of fun being the MC. I feel like it helped me get over some of my stage fright, and also helped me get more experience working on collaborative projects, no matter how much they flopped.

What aspect of the Mandarin Immersion Program surprised you the most?

I think the students of the program surprised me the most. Everyone in this class stands out from the rest of the school in one way or another, and these might be the most unique people I’ve ever met. It turns out a lot of us have a lot of shared experiences to connect over. I think the teachers in the MIP Program are some of the best teachers I’ve ever had. They facilitate a great learning environment, and help us connect as a class. I can really tell they treat us as more than just their students.

How has the Mandarin Immersion Program prepared you for life after graduation?

MIP has helped me learn to keep an open mind, especially when learning about new cultures. It’s easy to be judgemental of other peoples’ customs and traditions, but actually taking in all the information is much more rewarding. The people in my class are people that I’ve known since elementary school, and I know I can rely on them at any point in my life. Were it not for MIP, I don’t think I would have met these people. There are certain qualities that every member of this inaugural class shares, and they’re all ones to look up to. Everyone here is a high achiever, and cares about learning. I think my life would have been very different if I didn’t grow up in this kind of environment, one where everyone sees the importance in education and hard work.

How will you use your Mandarin knowledge in your daily life?

I use it to communicate with my family every day, and I fly to China every couple years to visit my extended family, and in that case, knowledge of the Chinese language and culture is vital. When I become an occupational therapist, I can use my Mandarin knowledge to communicate with people who have trouble speaking or learning English. This language gives me something to connect to people with. When I go to college, I can bond with people over our shared culture and experiences.

What advice would you give other students considering joining the Mandarin Immersion Program?

If you’re trying to learn the language, try to not use the grammar of your native language when learning Chinese. Grammar is one of the things people struggle with the most, and it’s usually because they have these rules ingrained into their mind that they apply to the languages they try to learn. In terms of learning the culture, just try to keep an open mind. Chinese culture is different from American culture, so you might not understand everything right away. Don’t be afraid to ask the teachers for help. Every single teacher in this program is fantastic and loves helping and sharing their culture with their students. I suggest watching Chinese movies if you want to improve your Chinese skills. That’s how my parents learned English, and some Chinese movies aren’t actually that bad. Don’t worry, learning Chinese isn’t as hard as it seems.

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